We should have known in early February, when we evacuated my mother from China. We were in a small town in Colombia then with no running hot water, a world away.
On a continent that often proved frustrating, Mendoza, Argentina could not have been a more welcoming respite, a food and wine paradise with leafy tree-lined boulevards and the nicest people.
Halfway through our first trip around the world, we found two lightweight 30 liter Quechua backpacks that weighed only 510 grams and cost only 15 USD each. Previously we were traveling with a 40 liter Patagonia pack and a Samsonite carryon suitcase. We figured we could simply buy new clothes with all the baggage fees we’d save.
We came to Nicaragua on a bit of a lark. We owned flights to neighboring Costa Rica, so we thought we should try to see Nicaragua as well. After a bit of research, we found out some Hollywood stars had vacationed near San Juan del Sur, a small fishing town on the emerald coast just across the border from Costa Rica.
We decided that during our time in Costa Rica, we should visit neighboring Nicaragua as well. It would be Aaron last country in Central America. So we headed off to San Juan del Sur, a rugged little beach town on Nicaragua’s emerald coast just over the border from Costa Rica.
Small and colorful Salento is the closest town to the Cocora Valley, home to the tallest palm trees in the world. The buildings are well maintained, the streets are clean, and there are many restaurants and cafés to choose from.
Cocora Valley is home to the tallest palm trees in the world and one of Colombia’s most popular outdoor destinations. Hiking the valley was one of our neatest experiences in South America, but it wasn’t without a little misadventure.
Bogota is Colombia’s capital city at the foot of the Andes, with a colonial old town remarkably similar to the one in Quito, Ecuador. Even though Bogota is a huge city, the tourist attractions are mostly clustered in the old town, which you can visit in a day or two.
From Cartagena we flew to Medellin, Colombia’s city of eternal spring set in the lush Aburrá valley. Once the most dangerous city in the world in the 1980s, Medellin has transformed itself into the most innovative city in the last decade.
In February we spent a few days in Cartagena, Colombia, famed for its colorful old city inside a fortress-like wall. February we discovered was summer, the dry season when the city receives the most tourists, driving prices up and making Cartagena Colombia’s most expensive city.